Archaeologists have uncovered the remains of a medieval doorway leading into the caves underneath Culzean Castle.

The team of volunteer archaeologists helped investigate the caves as part the National Trust for Scotland’s Thistle Camp working holiday.

They also found indications that the caves were occupied in the Iron Age.

Derek Alexander, Head of Archaeological Services for the Trust, said: “We are really excited about this discovery and the results of the excavation so far.

“We knew there was a wall and doorway at the mouth of the Castle Cave but there was nothing at the entrance of the Stables Cave. A couple of stones on the surface suggested there might have been a wall. Imagine our surprise when we found two sides of a doorway surviving up to 8 courses high buried to a depth of about one metre.

“The doorway is quite wide, measuring 1.1m across and could have been secured with a draw bar.

“We have also just received a radiocarbon date from a sample taken last year which shows that caves were occupied in the Iron Age.

“The sample of charcoal from the lowest midden deposit in upper chamber in Castle Caves was submitted to the SUERC laboratory and produced a date of 135-325 AD. This is similar to a date from the Gazebo Court on top of the cliff above the cave but is the earliest dated evidence from the caves.”

Ian Cornforth, Culzean Head Ranger added: “These results will help inform our interpretation of the Culzean and the human activity in the caves. There are so many stories to tell here and share with our visitors.”